KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hell hath no fury like Taylor Swift fans scorned.
More than two months after “unprecedented demand” wreaked havoc on sales for Swift’s upcoming “The Eras Tour,” Ticketmaster officials were grilled Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, urged the Justice Department to sue Live Nation Entertainment, which owns Ticketmaster, after a 2010 merger that many people complain created a monopoly.
“They probably never should have been allowed to merge,” Hawley said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with KSHB 41 News. “And I think you can make a pretty strong case that the Justice Department needs to bring suit to force them to divest some of the pieces of their company.”
Hawley pointed out that Live Nation’s ownership of venues and the ticket-sales apparatus, with growing influence in the ticket resale market, creates untenable market conditions.
“That's just a huge problem for competition and we see them abusing that and how they set ticket prices,” Hawley said. “We see their business practices, the artists hate it, so I think it's probably time for the Justice Department to come in and say, ‘Listen, you can't have a monopoly in both the ticket-sales industry and the venue operation and the resale.’ Just one person shouldn’t be able to own all of that. It's just anticompetitive.”
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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II — who represents the part of Kansas City, Missouri, where GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium is located — may not have taken part in the Senate hearings, but he was glad to see Ticketmaster come under scrutiny.
Live Nation’s monopoly on the live entertainment industry is bad for artists, bad for consumers, and bad for entertainment in general. Market consolidation is a challenge facing many industries in America, and it is something that Congress and the Biden administration should work together to address, so that we can crack down on corporate greed and lower costs for the public.
While I am certainly pleased that the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to hold Live Nation’s feet to the fire, it’s important that Congress do more than just hold a hearing. We need bipartisan legislation that will help to increase competition in the industry, and we need it now.
Rep. Sharice Davids, a Democrat who represents Johnson County and part of Wyandotte County, also supported the Senate's inquiry.
“Questions were definitely raised during the Taylor Swift-Ticketmaster meltdown, and I think it’s more than fair that the Senate is looking for those answers," she said in a statement. "There have been transparency concerns before with Ticketmaster and I hope this hearing leads to a better user experience and a better deal for fans and musicians overall.”
Swift is scheduled to perform July 7-8 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City stop was announced Nov. 1 and a second date was added 10 days later.
Fans were required to register for a presale, but Ticketmaster blamed bots, among other things, for overwhelming its system before scrapping plans to put tickets on sale to the general public.